Microtonality and Transposing Instruments


I’ve read about this topic in several other threads on the forum but none seem to address the specific problem I’m having, nor can I find a solution in the operation manual.

I’m writing for bass clarinet (the default instrument type offered in Dorico) and using a custom tonality system based for 48 EDO (which features arguably the most common accidentals-glyphs in use today). Once I insert the custom clef and begin inputting with the new tonality system, the bass clarinet no longer shows in transposition, i.e. I can only see it in concert pitch in both the full score and part. ‘Transposing Layout’ option is on in Layout Options in both score and part. I’d attach the file but .dorico format doesn’t seem to work as attachments here(?).

Do I need to customise settings further in either the tonality system or the instrument in order for this to work?

Weirdly once I insert the custom key signature the problem continues even if I put back in 12 EDO and G major or whatever.

As the tonality system is 48 EDO I’m hoping it’s not prey to the problem Daniel has described several times on other threads, whereby Dorico won’t be able to calculate the transposition required by the instrument e.g. a major 9th downward for the bass clarinet, because such an interval doesn’t exist in the tonality system. But of course in 48 EDO a major 9th does exist, so I’m hoping there’s a solution.

Many thanks for any tips or ideas.

Just a quick reply about attaching files - zip up the project first, then you can attach it (when it ends in .zip)

Thanks Lillie! Now attached… :smiley:
Multiphonics - Bass Clarinet.dorico.zip (439 KB)

Certainly the problem is that Dorico can’t transpose the key signature, but I’m a bit puzzled about your project, as it doesn’t appear to contain a 48-EDO tonality system at all, only the factory supplied 12-EDO and 24-EDO tonality systems. Did you perhaps copy and paste from your own project into a new one? If so, please try cutting down your original project and attach that instead of copying and pasting to a new one. Thanks!

Hi Daniel,
Actually this is the whole project - I was just starting it as a test, that’s why there’s so little, but it’s enough to illuminate the problem, I hope.

Can I find the tonality system file somewhere and attach it here, if it doesn’t get included for some reason in Dorico project? Or is the fact that the tonality system isn’t included in the project I just sent an indication that it might not be properly set up in the project itself? The tonality system is a copy of one someone else sent me, I think - at least I didn’t make it myself.

Either way, if it is 48 EDO, will it be possible for Dorico to transpose it correctly, assuming I take any necessary steps or tweaks?


My expectation is that Dorico should be able to transpose it, yes, provided it’s compatible with 12-EDO, and it’s correctly set up such that each pitch can be raised and lowered by degrees symmetrically.

If you use the tonality system in a project, then it will (or at least should) end up saved in the project. The fact that it’s missing might be indicative of a bug, but it’s hard to say. Can you provide the original tonality system somehow, e.g. by providing the project in which it was sent to you from, or the library file you imported it from?

Hi Daniel,

Thanks - I’ve attached the original tonality system which a friend sent me. I renamed this and created my own (48-ET) which is what the above project uses. The attached TS is called 24-EDO but has the glyphs with arrows which I use for eighth-tones or approximations, so it is actually ‘48-EDO ready’, you might say.

I’ve also attached a new project which starts from scratch - hopefully this includes my own 48-ET tonality system and gets around the problem you identified in my first attachment.

A quick thought also - are you saying I may run into bugs if I start new projects by re-saving old ones? If so, how else can I mimic the ‘import house style’ function of Sibelius? I prefer to use different fonts, engraving rules, margins etc than the default.

Many thanks
Archive.zip (443 KB)

Interestingly the test file you included in this archive also doesn’t contain your custom tonality system, but having imported the tonality system from the .doricolib file included, I think I can see the problem. Although you’ve defined accidentals that provide deltas of up to +8/48 and down to -8/48, the actual temperament definition within the tonality system is still defined as 24-EDO, rather than 48-EDO. Try doubling the 4 division gaps to 8, and the 2 division gaps to 4, so that Dorico shows “Number of divisions: 48” in the Edit Tonality System dialog.

Also, I’m still not sure what the custom key signature is supposed to show. Unless you actually want to show a conventional key signature, in which case you should just use one of the regular common key signatures, I would suggest you simply type “atonal” or “open” into the Shift+K popover to create an open key signature using your selected tonality system.

Finally, in terms of being more or less likely to encounter bugs if you start new projects by using older projects as templates, no, you’re unlikely to come to any specific harm by taking that approach.

Thanks Daniel,

That’s weird - in my 48-EDO tonality system, based on the 24-EDO one sent last, I had already defined the intervals correctly to produce 48 steps in total, as you describe.

Guessing there is some kind of hitch somewhere I can’t see, I’ve ended up just making the 48-EDO again from scratch and it’s working fine now - instruments transposing as expected in their part layouts.

I’ve attached the working 48-EDO tonality system here in case anyone else is interested, although who knows whether you might face the same problem I’ve had with importing one made by someone else.

48-EDO NM.doricolib.zip (3.41 KB)

I can reproduce this kind of problem of the disappearance of a custom tonality system.
Please create your new custom tonality system( custom accidentals and custom key signatures) and save it as default (press Save As Default in Edit Tonality System dialog). Then close the project.
Then create a new project, enter some notes, and enter the custom key signature and custom accidentals to it using the custom tonality system you created last time (do not edit this custom tonality system this time). Then save and close the project, and quit Dorico.
Then open this project in a different environment using a different userlibrary.xml (for example, a different version of Dorico, Dorico owned by someone else, or Dorico with your own userlibrary.xml deleted).
Then you should have this problem. Your custom tonality system disappears and your custom key signatures and accidentals that are present in your score do not appear in the right panel. I think it’s a bug.

I think this is also the cause of the disappearance of the custom tonality system talked about in this topic.

Also, the file (crash.dorico.zip) in this post are in the same problematic state. When we select a note with an accidental in this project, neither the key signatures nor the accidentals appear in the right panel.

Yes, since these posts were made we have found and fixed these problems, so this will not occur in Dorico 4.

Oh, nice work! Thanks for a information.